The Council’s Tree Wardens have started undertaking the OPAL (OPen Air Laboratories) survey into the health of the trees in the District. The survey is being co-ordinated by Imperial College London together with Forest Research and the Food and Environment Research Agency.
With guidance from Tree Warden Co-ordinator Kevin Mason a member of the Countrycare team, nine Tree Wardens attended a training session on 12th June in Roughtalley’s Wood, North Weald.
By taking part in the national survey and submitting the results the Tree Wardens are helping to discover more about the general health of our trees and give vital information on some of the pests and diseases that affect Oak, Ash and Horse Chestnut trees. Instruction was also given on identifying other potential pests and diseases which whilst not present yet, or at least not widespread, could have a serious impact on our trees. Tree Wardens are part of an important surveillance network of people across the country protecting our trees.
The recordings are used by Forest Research – the Forestry Commission’s research agency. The results from the survey will show the condition and health of the trees in parks, streets and woodlands across the UK and provide important information about the possible presence of certain key tree pests and diseases.
A national survey like this has not been undertaken before and it is likely that the trees surveyed by the Tree Wardens will not have been surveyed before.
The survey covers the location and species of the tree, its characteristics in relation to the trees around it and its condition; this gives a general picture about the health of the tree. Also covered was up to date information of pests and diseases on three of the most recognisable tree species: Ash, Oak and Horse Chestnut.
One of the Horse Chestnuts surveyed by the Tree Wardens was discovered to have Bleeding Canker. This is a disease caused by a pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae pv aesculi, which infects and disfigures the tree. If the disease is severe it can kill the tree so it needs to be regularly checked. Fortunately none of the Ash trees in the wood were found to have.
The Tree Wardens were also shown an unusual Cappadocian Maple (Acer cappadocicum) which is growing in the wood and there is a fine display of Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)growing in the wet grassland area.
To help with the survey please go to http://www.opalexplorenature.org/TreeSurvey
for the full instructions or alternatively contact Kevin Mason at Epping Forest Countrycare on 01992 788203
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